“One joke goes that Ja­pan does not have a nu­clear weapon be­cause a sin­gle screw needed to en­able it has not been tight­ened. That may over­state the hur­dles but it cap­tures the prin­ci­ple. The limit of Ja­panese mil­i­tary power is Ja­pan’s will”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

im­per­a­tive to avoid an­other war on the peninsula. The U.S. does not want in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles in North Korea, but it might ac­cept a deal per­mit­ting short-range mis­siles. And though nei­ther North nor South Korea re­ally trusts the Chi­nese, a U.S. re­treat from the re­gion might re­quire some ac­com­mo­da­tion with China.

Ob­vi­ously, this sce­nario has yet to play out, but the Ja­panese have made it clear to any­one who will lis­ten that the di­rec­tion of ac­com­mo­da­tion is un­ac­cept­able to them. And this is where Ja­pan runs into the trap em­bed­ded in its na­tional strat­egy. De­pend­ing on its re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. to both pro­tect it from ma­jor threats and ex­cuse it from sig­nif­i­cant of­fen­sive ac­tion, the Ja­panese force, though far from in­signif­i­cant, does not give Ja­pan the weight to change the course of the ne­go­ti­a­tion. China has the po­ten­tial to do so. The U.S. does as well. Ja­pan does not.

Charles de Gaulle warned the world of this type of prob­lem. The ul­ti­mate guar­an­tee dur­ing the Cold War was that, if needed, the U.S. would es­ca­late to nu­clear war to block Soviet ad­vance. De Gaulle ar­gued, how­ever, that the U.S. would not trade New York for Paris.

Now Ja­pan must ask

it­self how

far the United States would go to main­tain its po­si­tion in the Northwest Pa­cific. The re­gion is im­por­tant to the U.S., but likely not im­por­tant enough to war­rant a nu­clear ex­change.

The U.S. can exit and sur­vive. Ja­pan does not have the luxury.

For the first time since World War II, Ja­pan must con­sider whether the strate­gic re­al­ity in its re­gion could evolve in a di­rec­tion “not nec­es­sar­ily to Ja­pan’s ad­van­tage,” to quote Hiro­hito’s sur­ren­der speech in 1945. Such a shift would re­quire Ja­pan to re­think how it sees it­self and its role in the world.

Noth­ing may change. In­deed, with less than three weeks to go un­til the sched­uled Kim Jong Un-Don­ald Trump sum­mit on June 12, the U.S. was al­ready sug­gest­ing there’s a “sub­stan­tial chance” talks won’t hap­pen in June. But if rec­on­cil­i­a­tion hap­pens, Ja­pan may not have time to cre­ate the mil­i­tary force it will need to de­fend its in­ter­ests. Ja­pan can­not wait un­til there is clar­ity, nor can it pro­ceed with­out a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. Ja­pan is trapped be­tween a new re­al­ity and its old strat­egy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.